A common question that arises is concerning the termination of parental rights. When parental rights are terminated, all legal ties between the parent and child are severed. This cannot be done consensually. A court must find grounds for the termination, and that the termination is in the child’s best interests.
In North Carolina, termination of parental rights proceedings are held in juvenile court before a district court judge. There is no jury. The petitioner (the person attempting to terminate the parental rights) must (1) show that there are grounds for the termination, and (2) that it is in the child’s best interests to terminate the parental rights. The petitioner must show by clear and convincing evidence that grounds for the termination exist, and that the termination is in the child’s best interests.
NCGS 7B-1111 sets out several grounds for terminating parental rights in North Carolina. A petitioner needs to prove at least one ground to successfully have a respondent’s parental rights terminated. Some of the ground which justify a termination include abuse, neglect, willful abandonment, the assumption of child custody by one party and the failure to pay child support by the other, a child born out of wedlock with the failure to establish paternity or legitimize the child, the failure to provide proper care and supervision when the child needs specialized care, a conviction of a serious felony such as murder or a sexually related offense.
Even upon the petitioner proving one of the grounds justifying termination, a judge must still find that the termination is in the child’s best interests. To that end, an evidentiary hearing must be held with sworn testimony. A parent cannot simply consent to the termination, even if they want to, fail to file a responsive pleading, or fail to appear at the termination hearing.
Adkins Law is located in Huntersville, North Carolina and primarily serves Mecklenburg County, and the Lake Norman area. If you want to speak with an experienced family law attorney, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.